Thursday, December 31, 2009

Le Loge de Change - Lyon

Le Loge du Change is a beautiful classicist building in Vieux Lyon. It once housed the city's stock exchange. Since 1803 it has belonged to one of Lyon's protestant congregations.

From the 14th century this location housed the headquarters of bankers merchants and financiers from all over Europe assembling at the Lyon fairs. By the 16th century this group had grown in importance to such an extent, that it was decided to build a lodge for them. The building started a century later.

The former stock exchange is located on the narrow rive gauche, under the steep cliffs of the Fourviere Hills.

The present building has the appearance of an 18th century building, but is in fact a century older. Underneath the classic exterior rests a building built between 1631 and 1653 after the design of architect Simon Gourdet.

By 1748 the building was too small for its purpose. The famous architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot was commissioned to convert the building to fit the needs of the expanding city. It was finished in 1750.

Soufflot had studied architecture in Rome, and when returning to France he introduced neoclassicism as architectural style.

He got Abel-François Poisson, the future marquis de Marigny, brother of Jeanne-Annette Poisson, Madame de Pompadour the maitresse of Louis XV, as his patron. In 1755 Marigny became the new Director General of Royal Buildings, and this gave Soufflot influence of the royal buildings in Paris.

His most famous design was that of the Panthéon in Paris.

Soullflot died in 1780, before his masterwork was finished, and his plans were not completely followed. He also designed the first opera house in Lyon, that was replaced by the present opera in 1831.

Soufflot's grave can bee seen in Panthéon in Paris

During the French Revolution the building served as an inn. In 1803 it was converted into a place of worship for the large Protestant congregation in Lyon.

(Photo: Bust of Soufflot by Loveless)

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